So I have gotten pretty well hooked on this anime called “Bleach.”
I shouldn’t enjoy it. It follows the standard anime formula of fight thing and win, fight bigger thing and lose, go learn some technique with a name that sounds like it was composed with a magnetic poetry kit, have rematch and win, rinse, repeat. Along the way there is a dreadfully labryinthical plot, a vast supporting cast with oddly colored hair (many of which are regrettably similar in appearance) largely nonsensical behavior by all parties, and the sort of shameless power-leveling that would make even the most dedicated munchkin blush.
Despite this, Bleach is freakishly charming. Don’t ask me to explain the appeal. I can’t figure it out either. It just is. I think it’s the supporting cast or something. The drunken samurai captain in pink fills me with glee. I’m somewhere in the mid-fifties on episodes–once a week some friends and their coworkers all get together and we watch four or five episodes (or if the cliff-hangers are coming thick and fast, six or seven episodes.)
Lately the whole focus has been on everybody’s amazing magic swords, which, perhaps predictably, have the Uber-Magic form that’s, naturally, unstoppably powerful (except when it isn’t.) Many of these amazing uber-magic forms are really rather boring. “Look, my sword becomes–a BIGGER SWORD!” Or two swords. Or a bunch of little swords. Or a slightly-different-shaped sword. Then they duel with their rather boring Uber-swords, and there are many swishy lines and some fooling with colors and perhaps an explosion, plus massive collateral damage to all surrounding architecture. Then someone takes about twenty minutes to die, gasping out their last words in a fashion worthy of Shatner, before the medics come and patch them up.
Every now and then, though, you get the feeling that the creators were getting bored with all this sword crap and some minor character wanders by with a sword that turns into a giant flying one-eyed stingray with landing gear,* or a baboon-headed giant metal viper or something that makes you wonder why anybody fools around with that sword crap at all.
All this made me think that if I’m ever a Japanese anime hero, I’m going to have an Uber-sword that turns into a complicated series of logic puzzles that my opponents will be forced to solve before they can get at me.** From what I’ve seen of the intelligence of most of these characters, I’d be invincible. I could float serenely in a convenient kimono-rippling wind, while my enemies sweat and froth and there are frozen flash scenes of pencil points breaking and lots of jittery action lines.
And if that fails, the one-eyed flying stingray of doom was kinda neat, too.
*I am not making this up.
**Scratch paper will be provided. We are not without mercy for our honored foe.
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